Intended for healthcare professionals


Young women and anal sex

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 11 August 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o1975
  1. Tabitha Gana, ST8 general and colorectal surgery,
  2. Lesley M Hunt, consultant surgeon
  1. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to: L M Hunt lesley.hunt3{at}

Clinicians’ reluctance to discuss possible harms is letting down a generation of women

Anal intercourse is becoming more common among heterosexual couples. Within popular culture it has moved from the world of pornography to mainstream media.1 It is no longer considered an extreme behaviour but increasingly portrayed as a prized and pleasurable experience.2 In Britain, the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle shows participation in heterosexual anal intercourse among 16 to 24 year olds rose from 12.5% to 28.5% over the past few decades.3 Similar trends are seen in the US, where 30-44% of men and women report experience of anal sex.4

Individual motivation varies. Young women cite pleasure, curiosity, pleasing male partners, and coercion as factors.56 Up to 25% of women with experience of anal sex report they have been pressured into it at least once.7 Hit television shows such as Sex and the City and Fleabag may unwittingly add to the pressure, as …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription